7 Affordable, Top-Rated Spring Cruises

Now's the time to find a bargain cruise for exploration, fitness, relaxation or fun with the kids.

Couple on a cruise ship deck.Michaeljung / Shutterstock.com

Spring’s the time to cruise.

Yes, you’re still recovering from the holidays, working to make up for the time off during the holidays and already thinking about the spring-cleaning ahead.

But put that aside and look at the various cruise-line bargains during this season. Whether you’re a foodie, part of a couple, want to spend time with kids or grandkids, ready for some full-on fitness or just want to see new sights, you’ll find a cruise at a near bargain basement price.

The reason: Many cruise lines reposition their vessels in the spring. Rather than sail empty, they offer low-cost passage from the port where they are currently docked to the new destination. Other cruise lines sell low-cost cruises in the spring because it’s not high season for cruising.

So where to go and on what ship or cruise line? Start by considering these seven cruises recommended by travel experts:

1. Royal Caribbean for the European adventurer

Barcelona portS-F / Shutterstock.com

Put those two weeks of vacation to great use by sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas from Tampa to Barcelona, Spain, with a stop in the Canary Islands, suggests Cruise Critic. The ship isn’t the company’s newest but it has a fun vibe, and it’s rare that passengers have to wait in line for activities, the critics report. There are also plenty of onboard activities including wine tastings and rock climbing.

Need to know: The food isn’t the best or most bountiful, but it’s good. And remember, you’ll have to pay to return from Barcelona.

Price (at time of publication): Ranging from $610 per person for an inside cabin to $1,614 for a suite.

Compare deals on various travel sites including Royal Caribbean and Direct Line Cruising.

2. Central America and Mexico adventures with Oceania

Brandon Bourdages / Shutterstock.com

The 16-night Panama Canal cruise (Miami to San Francisco) on Oceania’s Regatta is perfect for those who love visiting ports. As the ship repositions from the Caribbean to Alaska it stops in nine Latin American ports — including Old Havana in Cuba and San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua, according to Cruise Critic. Excellent food, plenty of space and quiet, efficient services are all hallmarks of this “country club casual” ship, Cruise Critic reports.

Need-to-know: You won’t find major song-and-dance shows and similar entertainment on this smaller ship.

Price (at the time of publication): $3,499 per person and up.

Compare deals on various sites including Oceania.

3. Exploring the Alaskan frontier on Princess

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Alaska in spring is chilly, so visitors don’t see as much in the way of animals or foliage as guests who arrive later in the season. But it’s still beautiful, and there are other positives including price and fewer visitors, reports Cruise Critic.

Budget-minded travelers have an array of dates, cruise lines, ships and other options from which to choose. Princess Cruises’ Ruby Princess, which has a seven-day cruise from Seattle up the Inside Passage, and including Glacier Bay National Park, is one of the top-rated options from Cruise Critic. Down-to-earth, friendly passengers and crew, improved dining and entertainment options and “movies under the stars” all earned the critics’ praise.

Need to know: Expect cruise reps to try to upsell you on cabins and more.

Price (at the time of publication): From $1,199 per person

Compare deals on various sites including Princess.

4. Disney family Bahamas getaway

Peter Titmuss / Shutterstock.com

If you’re someone who cruises with any regularity, you probably know that Disney is as attentive to its seafaring guests — usually families with young kids — as it is to those who visit its theme parks. One of the most popular getaway spring cruises is a three-night trip to the Bahamas on the Disney Dream, the newest ship in the fleet, according to Cruise Critic. As you’d expect it’s filled with kid-friendly fun including “enchanted art,” which “comes to life as you admire it,” meetings with Disney princesses and an array of Disney-themed shows. There are also some adult-only areas for those who need a break from mouse-centric fun.

Need to know: This a terrific cruise with kid-focused attention to detail (lids on cups, ketchup aplenty) but some travelers find there just aren’t enough quality activities for adults.

Price (at time of publication): Ranging from about $750 per person for an inside cabin to almost $5,000 for a suite.

Compare deals on various sites including this breakdown from Cruise Critic.

5. Bahamas adventure for (non-Disney) family fun

AngelaLouwe / Shutterstock.com

We know some people aren’t Disney fans. That’s OK — there are still plenty of cruise options kids will love. The Royal Caribbean ship Enchantment is one of Cruise Critic’s top recommendations for kids and also offers three-night Bahamas cruises.

They especially tout the Adventure Children’s Program. The program has five groups with activities for kids ranging in age from 6 months to 11 years. And teens — ages 12 to 17 — have their own spaces for TV, pizza parties, dancing and other activities, Cruise Critic reports.

Need to know: Some travelers have warned of inconsistent service and food quality.

Price (at time of publication): Ranged from about $499 per person for an inside cabin to just over $700 for a suite.

Compare deals on various sites including Cruise Critic.

6. Adventure for fitness buffs on the Celebrity Equinox

By Evannovostro / Shutterstock.com

One look at the photos of the fitness facilities on the Celebrity Equinox, and you know this is a ship for the activity-minded. The fitness center has row after row of stationary bikes, tracks, weights and an array of other equipment in addition to the outside pools and other entertainment options.

This ship lives in the Caribbean and takes advantage of the endless summer with features such as a real grass lawn on top of the ship.

Cruises range from six to 11 nights and some cruises are themed, such as the “Jazz Fest cruise.”

Need to know: Most passengers on this ship are middle-aged travelers, reports Cruise Critics. That might explain why there’s no rock climbing wall.

Price (at time to publication): Starting at $849 per person for an eight-night Eastern Caribbean cruise, according to Celebrity.

Compare deals on various sites including Cruise Critics.

7. Cruise the Hawaiian Islands with Norwegian

Bruce C. Murray / Shutterstock.com

Many visitors to Hawaii end up visiting just one of the islands that comprise the state because getting from one island to another generally involves flying. That’s a shame, because visiting each island allows travelers to experience their unique vibes. But a seven-night inter-island cruise on Norwegian’s Pride of America allows passengers to visit Maui, the Big Island of Hawaii, Hilo, Kona and Kauai, notes Cruise Critics.

Guests spend every day in port so they can enjoy each island.

Need to know: The best food is found at restaurants that charge extra fees; the on-ship entertainment is not top-shelf.

Price (as of publication date): Starting at $1,749 per person for an inside cabin and $3,999 for a suite, according to Direct Line Cruises.

Compare deals on various sites including Cruise Critics.

Are you in the market for a cruise or have recommendations for others who are? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Nancy Dunham
Nancy Dunham @NancyDWrites

Nancy Dunham is a freelance journalist based in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

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